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Playing with Fire


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Table of Contents

List of FiguresForewordPrefaceIntroduction. Sound and Fury, Signifying EverythingChapter One. Something about Saint MaryChapter Two. The Bacon Gets BurntChapter Three. A Fire from WithinChapter Four. Not a Sentimental JourneyChapter Five. Back to LouisianaCharter Six. The People vs. Marine Shale: Building the CaseChapter Seven. Case Closed, Pt. 1Chapter Eight. Case Closed, Pt. 2: Verdict RenderedChapter Nine. Putting Out the FireConclusions. So, What Did We Learn?IndexSelected BibliographyAbout the Authors

About the Author

John W. Sutherlin is professor of political science and public administration at the University of Louisiana Monroe (ULM). Daniel Elliot Gonzalez has a master's in history at the University of Louisiana Monroe (ULM).


It has been said that, from an environmental justice movement perspective, Louisiana remains a hotbed of grassroots community activism, and that many women have emerged as leaders from groups of concerned citizens. Playing With Fire examines the protracted fight led by women against Louisiana's political leaders, the Department of Environmental Quality's regulators, and the company, Marine Shale Processors, that operated the world's largest hazardous waste incinerator. This well-written book examines the racial and class dynamics that were present in that struggle, and offers lessons learned for grassroots organizing, citizen participation, and community activism.

-- Barry E. Hill, Vermont Law School

Crossing over the Amelia Bridge, one no longer sees the Marine Shale Kiln releasing toxic emissions into the air and there is no longer a threat that another company will try to reopen the facility. May the children, who were the Neuroblastoma victims, never be forgotten.

-- Wilma Subra, Louisiana Environmental Action Network

Acknowledging environmental consequences of a lax regulatory tradition has long been a hard sell in Louisiana. Playing with Fire greatly advances our understanding of what has been a neglected topic in public discourse. Politicians, regulators, and indeed industry leaders should have a list of required readings, and this book should be on that list.

-- Greg Granger, Northwestern State University of Louisiana

The authors deliver the most comprehensive case study of hazardous waste management to date by weaving a narrative that shows a comprehensive understanding of the intersection of economics, environmental concerns, politics, history, culture, race, gender, class, religion and policy-making in the unique melange that is Louisiana.This is a must read for every policy-maker, and educator.

-- Will McClean, Arkansas State University

Playing with Fire captures the labyrinthine web of power and influence that directs politics in the Pelican State. Telling a near-apocalyptic story, Playing with Fire probes Louisiana's disastrous environmental and regulatory past while forecasting an uncertain future.

-- G. Pearson Cross, University of Louisiana at Lafayette

The public relies on its leadership to get the balancing act right-on economic factors, on environmental factors, on health and quality of life factors, among others. Playing with Fire presents a cautionary tale on what happens when whoever's doing that balancing act falls short of what's needed to protect those most vulnerable.

-- Kerry Ordes, Louisiana State University of Alexandria

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